We live in a world where telling a comforting lie is rewarded way above telling an inconvenient truth. It’s no secret that Fox News has made mega bucks by putting bias confirmation and hype before the reporting of actual facts, but this is a bridge too far. Political editor Chris Stirewalt called the State of Arizona for Joe Biden on election night and he was summarily discharged from his post, during a “restructuring” at the network — also after inciting the “murderous rage” of the Trump cult. He shares his thoughts in an op/ed published in the Los Angeles Times:

The rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election was partly a cynical, knowing effort by political operators and their hype men in the media to steal an election or at least get rich trying. But it was also the tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.

When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed.

Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally. The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact.

While there is still a lucrative market for a balanced offering of news and opinion at high-end outlets, much of the mainstream is increasingly bent toward flattery and fluff. Most stories are morally complicated and don’t have white hats and black hats. Defeats have many causes and victories are never complete. Reporting these stories requires skill and dispassion. But hearing them requires something of consumers, too: Enough humility to be open to learning something new.

I remain confident that the current depredations of the digital revolution will pass, just as those of the telegraph, radio and broadcast television did. Americans grew into those media and providers learned to meet the demands of a more sophisticated marketplace. That’s the work that I’ve always aimed to do and hope to be part of for many years to come.

What tugs at my mind after seeing a mob of enthusiastic ignoramuses sack the Capitol, though, is whether that sophistication will come quickly enough when outlets have the means to cater to every unhealthy craving of their consumers.

Newsmax and OAN are now trying to get rich catering to the unhealthy cravings of the former Fox News watchers. Fox News is now running last in the cable news wars for the first time in 20 years. With that kind of stress, who knows what depths the network will dive to next? The schism between the news and editorial departments has always been a Faustian bargain. Maybe now it’s run its course.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. It seems most technological developments have caused us to be lazier in most aspects. Texting has raised illiteracy to be the norm. Online news outlets has maybe exposed people’s tendencies to choose what they want to hear. When will a thirst for knowledge and truth beat out the people who only want what they want?

    • Yes and no on illiteracy. Book at library are not be checked out as much. But kiddos like to read and … for free. Why books for college keep getting more expensive. The kids don’t want to pay. Nobody does. Even though you do need some good reference books. The rest were for the professor to sell his own or somebody else (a friend, you get mine I get yours?).

      When? That takes a look in the mirror. I had TV. PBS and CBS news when I wasn’t watching cartoons and movies (which sometimes gets me mad that Spanish channels show recent movies! And I haven’t seen. No more Blockbuster). Back in the day growing up (60s). When network TV would break in with news. CNN was a breath of fresh air. But then, business and money made things sink to the bottom line.

      Again, will need internet to fix some of the problems it caused.

  2. Great job – a reporter reports accurately what is happening and is rewarded by being fired. How dare anyone report things that are actually happening when their bosses want to to not happen.

    Someone should check on the story of the prophetess Cassandra who was cursed that, although she couod prophesy the future no-one would believe her.

    Sounds like Faux Noose has a similar problem

  3. If the legendary Edward R. Murrow were still alive instead of “wires and lights in a box” he’d call Fox “News” a bad acid trip on a screen – that could penetrate INTO a tinfoil hat but never get out again!

      • Maybe if they had they’d have cleaned house and Fox would at worst be a right leaning organization instead of RWNJ propaganda central. Wait a minute. Nah. Disney has always cared about only one thing. Green, as in the color of money green. It’s (distressingly) only relatively recently that Fox News has bled advertising dollars so they’d have milked Fox propaganda for all they could. (Full disclosure – I’ve never been a fan of Disney. Growing up in the 1960s I thought the Mouseketeers and their show was stupid. I thought Walt Disney looked like a sleaze. Didn’t care for the animated movies either. Like most corporate entities money and only making more of it is their prime directive) I fully realize mine is a minority opinion when it comes to Disney and accept that I might get blasted for voicing it.

  4. A lot of years await this country, I fear. But take comfort that it’s likely going to be twice or thrice as bad for Fox News. Selling the non-“news” portions to Disney is looking dumber all the time.

    • They have held the right ground while cnn has looked to the center and msnbc has gone left. they have been primaried on the right and suddenly their market is lost. Scary though because OANN and Newsmax have actually 0 morals at all, while fox may have had 5 % morals.

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